Freddie Roach on Pacquiao’s demeanor, letting go of Alex Ariza, and his early days training Miguel Cotto

Trainer Freddie Roach speaking in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo: Chris Robinson – www.HustleBoss.com)

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By Chris Robinson

Over the past few weeks, trainer Freddie Roach was able to reconnect with his star fighter Manny Pacquiao during a seven-city international press tour ahead of the Filipino icon’s forthcoming clash with Brandon Rios.

Roach was ringside inside of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas this past December when Pacquiao was knocked out in brutal fashion from a picturesque right hand delivered by Juan Manuel Marquez in the sixth round of their welterweight encounter.

So chilling was Pacquiao’s knockout loss, that everyone seems to be wondering how the 34-year old will recover.

We will find out when Pacquiao faces Rios in Macau, China on Nov. 23 and Roach insists he still sees the Manny of old when around his fighter and friend.

“Well, he’s still playing basketball,” Roach would quip when asked of Pacquiao’s recent demeanor. “He’s still pretty good at that. He’s a great guy, as always. I see no changes in Manny at all.”

The subplots heading into the Pacquiao-Rios fight are already surfacing, as it was recently revealed that Roach had fired Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning coach, the always outspoken Alex Ariza.

Despite appearing to have done an excellent job in helping prepare Pacquiao in recent years, as he officially joined the team following Pacquiao’s March 2008 rematch with Marquez, the Columbian-born Ariza was never one to bite his tongue or hide his feelings.

Roach insists that Ariza’s brazen nature simply led to too much confusion on the team.

“I thought it was disruptive to be in camp with him,” said Roach. “He was starting to do my job. Miguel Diaz, he wouldn’t let him do his job as a cut man. I told Manny ‘He’s too disruptive right now’ and nobody in camp really gets along with this guy. I wanted a camp where we’re all together.”

“I said ‘Let’s get back to basics; the way we used to do it,’” Roach added. “Me and Buboy [Fernandez], we’re going to do our job and we’ll do it correctly.”

In other news, Roach began working with his latest client, former three-division champion Miguel Cotto, earlier this week as the Puerto Rican began training for an Oct. 5 date against Delvin Rodriguez in Orlando, Fl.

“We’ve had four days at my gym and everything is going really, really well,” Roach stated of his early work with Cotto inside of his Wild Card gym in Los Angeles.

“Yesterday we had our best day,” stated Roach. “[We] are starting to click with each other. We’re getting to know each other and I love working with new guys like that. He’s a very talented guy and it’s going great so far.”

Roach was actually already very aware of Cotto’s abilities well before they linked up, as he was standing in the corner appositive of him in Nov. 2009, as he helped guide Pacquiao towards a commanding 12th round TKO victory against him.

Asked if it is strange at all to be working with someone who he used to look at as the enemy, Roach claims that any friction between he and Cotto is well in the past.

“Not really,” said Roach. “We didn’t like each other for a moment, when the fight was going on, but that’s all just because of the competitive edge we have.”

PLEASE  CHECK  OUT more of Chris Robinson’s exclusives below

Freddie Roach on his early days with Miguel Cotto and why Pacquiao’s camp is better without Ariza

Abner Mares surprised to see Nonito Donaire back on HBO before Guillermo Rigondeaux

Bob Arum has heard ‘mixed reports’ about Chavez’s camp in Mexico; eyes Golovkin clash in 2014

Karim Mayfield says Manny Pacquiao tripped over Marquez’s foot before the crushing knockout

Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios face off for a final time in Los Angeles before breaking camp

Chris Robinson can be reached at Trimond@aol.com

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